Paris hospital executives caution about tough months looming because of COVID-19 variant
PARIS (FRANCE) – The spread of the coronavirus in France could sharply increase in the coming months after a more contagious variant surfaced, two Paris hospital executives said on Wednesday, evoking fears of a third lockdown in the country.
Karine Lacombe, head of infectious diseases at Paris’ Saint Antoine hospital, and Martin Hirsch, director general of the Paris hospitals system, both warned of the extra pressure this could impose on healthcare infrastructure.
Lacombe told BFM TV, “We know this variant spreads much more quickly and, above all, it is more infectious. So, yes, we think that it will change the dynamic of the pandemic in the weeks to come.”
The spread of this variant, first detected in England, has forced Britain, Germany and Ireland to go back to strict lockdowns.
France has for the time being stopped such a measure, opting a national 6 pm curfew, however, members of the government have warned that such a step is not off the table.
Hirsh said on France Info radio, “All the models reckon that some time between mid-February, early February, so in about 15 days or three weeks time and by mid-March, we will have an increase that could risk, if we cannot do otherwise, resembling what the English, the Irish and the Germans have been witnessing recently.”
The number of patients in intensive care units for the disease has now gone up to 2,839 for 10 consecutive days, a sequence not witnessed since early November, when France had just entered its second lockdown.
Lacombe said, “We fear it will be extremely tough, especially in March. On a local level … when the number of admissions in ICU units will ramp up, we probably will need more restrictive measures than the curfew.”
“We must remain alert and act as soon as we spot a deterioration of the indicators.”